Davey Johnson, who managed the Nationals from 2011-13, wasn’t surprised about the lengths the Houston Astros went to gain a competitive advantage by using technology to steal opposing pitchers’ signs in real time but disagreed with how MLB commissioner Rob Manfred handled the ensuing scandal, the former skipper said in an interview with The Washington Times.
“Every professional is looking for a little edge in the sport to be better,” Johnson told The Times’ Thom Loverro. “That has gone on for years. Everybody has cameras everywhere in this high-tech world. The tendency to use that to your own advantage is normal. I would expect nothing less.
“I thought the commissioner overreacted,” Johnson said of Manfred’s investigation and subsequent punishments handed down on the Astros. “Everyone has been trying to get an edge since I can remember in every aspect of the game.”
Johnson entered the league as a player in 1965 and appeared in parts of 13 seasons for the Baltimore Orioles, Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies and Chicago Cubs. Six years after hanging up the cleats, he took over as manager of the New York Mets and won a World Series with them in 1986.
He’s been a retired man since his final season with the Nationals in 2013. According to The Times report, Johnson now lives in Florida a couple hours north of Washington and Houston’s shared spring training complex in West Palm Beach.
But just because he’s been out of the game doesn’t mean he hasn’t been watching the news. Sign stealing was just as rampant back in his playing days as it is today, and teams have always tried to find ways to get around the rules. Just because the Astros brought high-powered cameras into it doesn’t mean Johnson was any bit more surprised when the news about the scandal broke.
“I hate the way the commissioner has handled this and the way everyone has handled this,” Johnson said. “It is human nature in baseball to try to get an edge, whether you are pitching or hitting. They’ve been trying to steal signs forever, different ballparks. This is nothing new. This is what you expect.”
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